The Cleveland Browns face the Carolina Panthers Sunday, and Baker Mayfield is going to be the starter. He’s facing Cleveland’s starter – or backup starter – after Deshaun Watson was suspended for the bulk of the season.
Jacoby Brissett’s wish comes true
The Browns have Jacoby Brissett. The backup to Deshaun Watson for 11 games this season. The veteran quarterback says he’s happy to be here, and he works hard.
“I wanted this,” he said of Cleveland this week. “I know what type of man I am. I know what type of player I am. I know what type of teammate I am.”
“I can only do the best that I can,” he said. “In my life, that’s been enough for me.
His best professionally is a 60.2% completion rating with 36 career touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
He has players’ respect. There’s a lot to like about him, even though he may not win a lot of games, Cleveland hopes he can keep them in the hunt.
Deshaun Watson fallout
The Haslams won’t get to play with their $230-million quarterback until December. Watson got a $44,965,000 signing bonus, so he’ll be making $3.7 million a week not playing. Instead, Watson is attending mandatory counseling, apart from his team (until Oct.) so he can rejoin them on the field in December.
No surprise the NFL kept the Cleveland @Houston game on the schedule and wanted Deshaun in it. Houston didn’t play him last year because he was accused of sex assault by more than 2 dozen women.
The Texans settled with 30 women. Deshaun has settled with 23.
And Watson, when we last saw him, still refused to say he was responsible for any behavior. “I’ve always stood on my innocence. And I’ve always said I never assaulted anyone, and I’m continuing to stand on that,” he said in a press conference after the decision was announced back in August.
The quarterback was never charged with a crime. Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, called Watson’s behavior predatory after allegations alleging sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
In his last appearance with the team for the 3rd preseason game on August 21, Watson was on the sideline, with an expression that people can get their own read on.
Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield era
Baker Mayfield had a bad 2021-2022 season. The then 26-year-old Mayfield went 6-8 as a starter last season. He completed 253 of 418 passes with 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, including seven in his last three games. He sat out the final game of the season, barely a week before surgery to repair his non-throwing shoulder.
Mayfield tore a labrum in his left shoulder in Week 2 at home on September 19, 2021. He played all but two games for the season. The Browns never pulled him. General Manager Andrew Berry reminded fans that Baker was their guy at the season’s end during a January press conference.
“We have been with Baker for a long period of time at this point. We know his work ethic, we know his drive and we have seen him as a talented passer in this league. We are looking forward to him getting healthy and continuing to make improvements. We expect him to bounce back next year,” Berry said at a January postseason presser 11 days into 2022.
Cleveland sports writers pushed Berry on the issue of quarterback especially. While Berry said glowing things about Baker, he also answered questions about his plans for a “lame-duck quarterback,” maybe it was a tip of the hand that the team didn’t give Baker a new contract.
“He has worked his tail off since the surgery. He is right on track. I talked to him after the surgery – he was a little bit groggy (laughter). It is the first time he has ever had surgery in his entire career. He has worked really hard, and we feel good about his progress.”
Two weeks later, the Browns news broke that Jimmy and Dee Haslam and Andrew Berry were meeting with Deshaun Watson.
Baker tried to say goodbye then but wasn’t officially let go until July. The quarterback whose ego led him to say things like “woke up feeling dangerous,” was all of a sudden in no man’s land once the Browns signed Deshaun. Baker waited for months for a team to pick him up
Cleveland will share a $13.5 million price tag with the Panthers this season for Baker. Baker is on the hunt to show himself after a disappointing season.
Browns’ wild offseason comes to an end
Will the Browns be their own worst enemy? There’s a lot of talent on this team that fans hope they don’t squander.
Powerhouse DE Myles Garrett is back with Jadeveon Clowney. The Browns signed an excellent receiver in the offseason with Amari Cooper. Kicker Cade York has a bright future ahead. Running back Nick Chubb will likely still be one of the best in the league.
Browns fans might be wondering what (else) will go wrong.
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium on September 11.